How to Attract Attendees to Your Booth Across the Generational Divide
Jun 10, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

four generations in the workplace

With four generations — Mature, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y (or commonly referred to as Millennials) — in the workplace today, it can be a marketing puzzler for exhibitors to determine what will attract each generation to the show and the exhibitor's booth. Of particular concern to event planners are Millennials. Because of their technological savvy, one might ask if trade shows are going "bye-bye" in the next few years.

According to a recent study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) where they interviewed 9,000 attendees and 800 exhibitors, trade shows are going to be more viable than ever before. 

Here are the highlights of the survey and the many ways technology can help in your quest to keep and obtain more attendees. 

  • 90% of the respondents indicated the value of exhibitions today is the same or greater than it was in 2011. 
    This is great news! This means attendees are getting real value out of attending a show and can justify the expense and time away from the office.
     
  • 53% of respondents between 18-27 years old (Gen Y) indicated they plan to attend more exhibitions in the next two years. 
    Again, great news! The youngest generation is seeing a clear-cut value in trade show attendance. 
     
  • 50% of Millennials indicated their primary reason for attending a trade show was for inspiration and motivation. 
    So, how can you inspire and motivate? Perhaps having C-Suite management in your booth or connecting them live with attendees through a video wall. Or hiring motivational speakers that can give a brief talk and autograph their book. Brainstorm ways to do both and make certain to use interactive technology tool rentals such as iPads and computer kiosks to tell your story. 
     
  • 31% of Millennials indicated that online interaction before the trade show increased their participation in the event. 
    Using a social backchannel or online community to allow attendees to mingle and interact before the event,  is what Gen Yers are interested in. How are you getting them interested in your event? Are you asking for their input and feedback? Getting them conversational before the event and then keeping the conversation going is important to your success. 
     
  • 20% of Baby Boomers and 19% of Gen Xers ranked "making a purchase" as the top reason for attending. 
    The morale of the story: Don't hard sell your products or services. Make an impression and by all means follow-up! It is so much easier to follow-up with attendees on an automated Lead Retrieval System

"The good news is that face-to-face interactions at exhibitions are highly valued by professionals of all generations, including younger professionals. The fear that the relevance of this medium will wane with younger professionals is not evidenced in this study," said Nancy Drapeau, Research Director at CEIR. 

For more helpful insights what the future holds for trade shows, check out this AVES blog as to how they might look in 2016. 

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